Top Women in Commercial Real Estate | Nancy R. Little

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Print this page by Rex Bowman

Nancy Little didn’t invent the commercial real estate transaction. But she has certainly perfected it.  As the deputy managing partner for corporate practices at Richmond-based McGuireWoods LLP, she oversees its corporate/transactional departments, which include 475 attorneys. 

Little gets paid to focus on the fine print.  She specializes in real estate law and finance and works on transactions involving real estate acquisition, development and lending, lease financings, portfolio transactions and public-private partnerships.  The diverse demands of the job, she says, are what make it fascinating. “What I’ve always looked for is the opportunity to work with smart people and work on interesting, challenging legal issues.”

One of Little’s more unusual transactions involved a lease to build a rocket launch pad at Cape Canaveral. To get the deal done for her defense contractor client, she turned to a synthetic lease — a highly structured financing transaction (more popular in the 1990s and early 2000s) that gives clients accounting and tax benefits.  Little was even invited to the inaugural rocket launch.  “It was great fun to watch the first launch from a pad that I helped finance,” she recalls. 

Such cases get referred to McGuireWoods — one of the country’s largest law firms.  Little, 53, has worked for the firm for 28 years. During this time, she has provided counsel to many Richmond-area companies, including Apple Real Estate Investment Trust Cos. Justin Knight, president of the REIT, describes her as “incredibly thorough and tenacious…She’s exceptionally easy to get along with,” he adds, “but she can be tough in negotiations, for sure. She’s certainly no pushover.”

Little also has assisted with the structuring of financial real estate transactions for several of the area’s marquee companies, including Dominion Resources Inc. and Capital One Financial Corp. She also advises the Virginia Tech Foundation on legal issues regarding commercial real estate.

Recently, Little took on a new challenge, agreeing to co-chair McGuireWood’s Stimulus Package Task Force.  It was created in response to the stimulus funds appropriated by Congress earlier this year in hopes of jump-starting the economy. The group is charged with determining the best ways to provide legal counsel to clients for the stimulus package.

As one of the firm’s two deputy managing partners, Little travels to McGuireWoods offices in the United States and abroad.  “Another thing that amazes me is how focused she is,” says McGuireWoods partner Gloria Freye.  “She manages to deal with all the management issues while managing her own project load, which is intense.”

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